GASTRIC DILATATION AND VOLVULUS (GDV)
What is GDV?
Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening disorder most
commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs. The term refers to a
gas-filled stomach (bloat) that then twists upon itself. It is a
medical emergency that usually requires surgery to correct.
What causes the condition?
definite cause is still unknown. The most common history is a large
breed dog that eats or drinks rapidly and then exercises. In recent
studies, stress was found to be a contributing factor to GDV. Dogs
that were found to be more relaxed and calm were at less
risk of developing GDV than dogs described as “hyper’ or “fearful”.
Sometimes the condition progresses no further than simple dilatation
(bloat) but in other instances the huge, gas-filled stomach twists
upon itself so that both entrance and exit (cardia and pylorus) are
Is GDV serious?
This is probably one of the most serious non-traumatic conditions.
Veterinary help is needed without delay.
Are some dogs more prone than others?
statistically we know that large, deep chested breeds are more prone
to GDV. These include Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish
Setters, Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Doberman
Pinschers, and Old English Sheepdogs. Most commonly the condition
occurs two to three hours after eating a large meal.
These are the facts:-
The condition almost always occurs in
giant or large breed dogs with narrow, deep chests.
Gastric dilatation, usually without
volvulus, occasionally occurs in elderly small dogs.
The distended stomach pushes the
posterior rib cage so that the dog appears swollen or “bloated”. This
is most obvious on the left side and gentle tapping of the swelling
just behind the last rib often produces hollow, drum-like sounds.
The enlarged stomach presses on the
diaphragm and breathing becomes labored.
The swollen stomach also presses on the
larger blood vessels in the abdomen and circulation is seriously
compromised, resulting in shock.
Ultimately, the dog collapses and the
huge size of the abdomen can be appreciated as the dog lays on its
possible to distinguish between gastric dilatation (GD) and gastric
dilatation and volvulus (GDV)?
No. These two conditions often look identical on examination. X-rays
and other diagnostic tests will establish whether or not the stomach
Why does the dog collapse?
gas filled stomach presses on the large veins in the abdomen that
carry blood back to the heart. Tissues become deprived of blood and
oxygen resulting in shock. In addition, the pressure of the gas on the
stomach wall results in inadequate circulation and the stomach tissues
will begin to die and may rupture. Digestion ceases and toxins
accumulate in the blood, exacerbating the shock.
What can be done?
Veterinary assistance must be sought
It is imperative that the pressure on the
stomach wall and internal organs is reduced as soon as possible. The
veterinarian may first attempt to pass a stomach tube. If this is not
possible due to twisting of the stomach, a large bore needle may be
passed through the skin into the stomach to relieve the pressure in
Shock treatment will begin immediately by
administering intravenous fluids and medications.
Once the patient has been stabilized, the
stomach must be returned to its proper position. This involves major
abdominal surgery and may be delayed until the patient is able to
How is the surgery done?
primary goal of surgery is to return the stomach to its normal
position, remove any dead or dying stomach tissues and help prevent
future GDV. There are several techniques available including
gastropexy (suturing the stomach wall to the abdominal wall) and
pyloroplasty (surgical opening of the pylorus to improve stomach
outflow). Your veterinarian will discuss the technique or combination
of techniques best for your pet’s condition.
What is the survival rate?
depends upon how long the pet has had GDV, the degree of shock, the
severity of the condition, cardiac problems, stomach wall necrosis,
length of surgery, etc.
in relatively uncomplicated cases there is a mortality rate of 15-20%
Can the condition be prevented?
Gastropexy (surgical attachment of stomach to body wall) is the most
effective means of prevention. In high-risk breeds, some veterinarians
recommend prophylactic gastropexy. This does not prevent dilatation
(bloat) but does prevent twisting (volvulus) in the majority of cases.
Careful attention to diet, feeding and exercise regimens help to
do not hesitate to contact us to discuss any concerns you have
regarding this serious condition.